861.77 Chinese Eastern/1241

Memorandum by the Minister in China (Johnson)99

I saw Mr. Bogomoloff, the Soviet Ambassador, today and in the course of conversation I asked whether he had any information as to the matter of the negotiations for the sale of the Chinese Eastern Railway. He said that discussions were still proceeding; that there was a considerable difference between the amount offered by the Manchukuo people and the amount asked by the Soviet Government, the Manchukuo authorities having offered 50,000,000 gold yen, the Soviet Government having asked 250,000,000 gold rubles.

He said that the Manchukuo people had now raised the question of ownership and were arguing that they were merely offering to buy the Russian partnership in the line. He said that this argument naturally was based upon the Treaty of 1924 between Russia and China, by which Soviet Russia had offered China a partnership in the operation of the road. He said that the weakness of the Manchukuo argument lay in the fact that, while they were arguing that all Soviet Russia possessed was half of a partnership, they were not [Page 377] willing to admit the rest of the argument, namely, that the Chinese Government owned the other half of the partnership.

He said that Soviet Russia was anxious to liquidate its interest in the railway, as it wished to avoid any difficulties with Japan in North Manchuria. In 1929, during its dispute with China, Soviet Russia had been anxious to dispose of the railway, but at that time it was afraid that the railway falling into the hands of Chang Tso-lin [Chang Hsueh-liang] would be passed by Chang Tso-lin [Chang Hsueh-liang] over to Japan. It was for that reason that an article had been introduced into the treaties at that time to the effect that no third party should be involved in the matter.

China had recognized Russia’s right to sell the road by sending commissioners to Moscow to negotiate for the purchase of the road. In so far as China was concerned there had never been any question of Russia’s property right in the road.

Nelson Trusler Johnson
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch No. 2227, August 1; received September 1.